On obstruction

On obstruction

“Par Achab, Maharadja d’al-kantara, va à barrabas ! scanda andras.
alas, alas ! ahana max, clamçant.”
Very short extract from Georges Pere’s lipogrammatic poetry (using no vowel except ‘A’ here…}

 

Lars von Triers’s « Five obstructions » was a really interesting discovery to me. I was already sensitive to ‘Dogme 1995′ and mainly to Vinterberg’s « Festen »: one of the most moving  film i’ve ever watched (« The Hunt » his last work, i must admit, was too disturbing  and i wasnt  even able to finish it).
What mostly interested me in Lars von Triers approach was the importance of formal constraint in Art.
Back to the 60′s, the French literary movement OULIPO was already « freeing literature by tightening its rules » as The Guardian put it in a recent article. Raymond Queneau, founder of the movement, is one of the top 5 writer in my personal Pantheon (and accidentally the co-writer of Louis Malle’s « Zazie dans le metro »). He did a very similar work to Von trier’s one, but pushes the limit a bit further in delivering his short novel « Exercises in style » in which he told the same story, taking place within a Parisian bus, 99 times, with a different literary form each time. Other poets, used the word + 7 rule, to write their poems,  in other words using the 7th following noun in the dictionary after the one they first chose. I’ve found only one other similar attempt in recent cinema: The “10, 40 and 70” rule, for film criticism, issued by Nicholas Rombes.

Interior conflicts – a short story

Interior conflicts – a short story

“The heart of man plans his way but The Lord establishes his steps”
The Holy Bible – Book of proverbs 16.9

1.

My name is Paul. I am 21. Brown haired, green eyed. Though rather tall (6.2 ft) I’m not particularly noticeable and no PFPT (Parisian Female Potential Target) do a double take when I pass on…ever. A new year begins or, to be more accurate, a new fall semester at Rene Magritte’s College of Arts. I want to pass an Art History degree. Its 10am and I’m slumped in the couch, in my new unit. New, in the sense I’ve just move in it, but more objectively, ‘vintage’ would be the appropriate euphemism. “Paris 5th district. 1BR apt. Recently upd. Hardwood flr thru out. Kitch. apps. H.speed Internet inc.”, said the ad on web. Well, there’s nothing surprising about the spot. All the ads for student apartments deliver the same litany, and student simply don’t care, they just want THEIR apartment, period. Dad gave me a hand going to IKEA to find a couple of additional pieces of furniture: a minimalist “less is more” black sofa bed (Oerglub! $169), an
outdoor folding table with its two chairs (Atko! $45), a bookshelf (Igstroem! $33) and, essential for a very earnest student, a desk lamp (Orgasm! $8). I sacrificed myself on consumerism altar and spent a couple of hours more at Carrefour City Market Store, to get the last prop that would set up the backdrop of the opening scene. The fact is, I feel a bit lonely in my 450 square feet. But as dad says: “You wanted it? You got it!”
It smells weird. I guess all Terra Incognita, by definition, must convey the same weird sensory impressions. Was there a particular fragrance when Christopher Columbus set foot on the not yet coined Santo Domingo Island. Wet rotting leaves? Spice? Gold? Death? Who knows? Here and now –“Hic et nunc’ as Dad loves to say, just to show off and make people believe he knows dead tongues – Here and now, then, it smells a complex mix of fresh paint, sawdust, and blocked sink, most likely hints of the so called “recently updated” feature. In the main room, two little windows open directly to the street. They are located on the sunny side of the building …and on the very noisy side of the street. The sound spectrum ranges from the screaming baby to the (much more) screaming ambulance, but stubbornly stays above the Tinnitus threatening ninety decibel threshold. Currently there’s only the persistent, heady, background roars and honks from the stream of cars, trucks and buses, coming up from the street.
I woke up in a bad mood at 10:00, exhausted as well. Sometimes I wonder what the point is to go to bed every night if you wake up even more tired than if you hadn’t slept at all. Perhaps it was the noise, or perhaps it was simply because yesterday evening, my presence was kindly requested to the pre-orientation-parents-unwelcome-special-party. I’m a freshman. Not so fresh actually, because it’s my third first year. But let’s make it clear: I didn’t actually fail my first two years. I, as a particularly open minded self, simply wanted to proceed my investigations throughout the multiple fields of human knowledge. Mum and Dad, with their world-renowned concision, just say I’m afraid to get a real job. The fact remains that, do they like it or not, I now have my own place with my own stuff and I’m eager to enjoy the promising delights of freedom.

2.

I remember my first emotional turmoil as a student. It was the end of high school, I was hanging around in some bookshop, waiting to meet friends, when a book cover drew my attention: The title was: ”Alex’s adventures in Numberland”. I found it quite attracting and rather funny, and decided to buy it, to check if the content would keep the title’s promise. Back home, I grabbed it out of my backpack, began to read and only let it drop off my hands at the end of the weekend. Thinking about it afterwards, I figure out that I have experienced a kind of Joyce-ish mystic epiphany when reading it and that it led me to develop a genuine passion towards Sciences in general, and Mathematics in particular. My future now crystal-clear, I easily managed to find a college offering a major in Sciences, soon registered and eagerly commenced to attend the first courses of the curriculum.
As weeks and lectures stretched, my enthusiasm flourished. Algebra and Geometry proved to be an endless source of formal beauty. I successively and chronologically fell in love with Thales (hence with the impenetrable mystery of triangles), Isaac Newton and his gravity laws, Bertrand Russel –the only Mathematician that I know, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature1 — Then of course, with Albert Einstein and finally with the contemporary black hole theorist Stephen Hawking, though his attempt to unify all the laws of the universe into a single one, from his wheelchair, sounded courageous but rather megalomaniac to me. I read everything possible on Mathematics and Physics, had subscriptions for all the most cutting edge magazines on the topic. I even founded a club: “The friends of Pi”, whose members gathered every month to challenge Quantum Theory or possibly to break Fermat’s last conjecture. It was the kind of devouring passion in which, one is totally blind to the beloved’s little imperfections. Unfortunately the little imperfections I became aware of, during our epistemology course, were not so minor (may Professor Karpovsky burn in hell!) and despite my efforts I failed to bury them into the deepest layers of my subconscious. The unbearable truth was, would you believe it, that the mathematical system as a whole, was not only contradictory but was also incomplete!! In other words, some of the theorems could never be demonstrated and by the way, the rest was incoherent. Thanks to Kurt Godel, the unparalleled genius of the 20th century (may he burn in hell besides professor Karpovsky!), this one of a kind amazing discovery was the result of a mathematical, irrefutable and quite ironical demonstration! Since then I progressively got away from the magic of sciences. Fortunately it was almost the end of the second term and now
1 To tell the truth, I actually knew no mathematician, but I would have killed to meet one…
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unbound from the wooden pole of my scientific obsession, summer holidays would give me the opportunity to yield to some other siren’s songs.
3.
Vacation went on slowly, time expanding itself, as to remind me that some theories, as nebulous as General Relativity, might eventually have practical applications in everyday life. I was undetermined and didn’t have a clue of what I will be doing next year. The only thing I was sure of, was that it won’t be related to mathematics. Having plenty of time to spend, and being rather a home lover, I shared my time between reading novels during the day and watching TV most part of the night –I shouldn’t be too proud of it, but the expression ‘couch potato’ was actually coined after me– I especially enjoyed these rare moments when, mesmerized by the TV set, my parents sleeping upstairs, I was potentially able to do whatever I want, though I was actually too lazy to make any attempt to. As an aside, it may sound peculiar to non French people, but in our country, the best TV programs are always broadcasted very late, to be sure only a very restricted and motivated elite will be able to watch it. It was the case with ‘Apostrophe’ a program I had a weekly rendez-vous with and that I was more and more found of. The anchorman, Bernard Pivot, was a magician to me. Not only he made any kind of literature easy, but he always miraculously managed to interview some universally celebrated writers,
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most of whom, I thought, were already resting in peace within the Pantheon’s basement. I remember Nabokov’s exhilarating and profound speech, unveiling few secrets about some of his masterpieces. To be honest I have to confess I was somewhat disappointed to learn later that he was discretely reading his notes during the show. But it was for a noble purpose: he held language and words in such great respect, that he had only agreed to answer questions if they were mailed to him a week before. He wanted his answers to be really accurate, with the very level of meaningfulness he wanted to achieve.
I remember, as well, having hanged on words from geniuses such as Romain Gary, Roland Barthes, Umberto Ecco or the Nobel Prize JMG Le Clezio to name a few. But the one I will never forget and who will be held responsible for my second devouring passion, was the regretted Albert Cohen.
He was, at that time, at the dawn of his life, tired and apparently ill. But when he was asked to speak about some characters of his books, his energy came back, his face enlightened, became more vivid and I could see his eyes sparkling as a genuine teen ager. He was literally exulting (and me with him!) at the evocation of the colorful and Rabelaisian, Mangeclous, “Lord of the farts” and his little people of Cephalonia. A second later, he was affected when mentioning his unfortunate Jewish fellows from “O Humans, my Brothers”. But honestly , what I found devastating, was to see this eighty years old man, tears filling up his eyes, recounting the saddest recollection of his life. I remember quite well what his words were and I’ll try to be as faithful as
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I can: “I was a young International civil servant at that time, and was attending one of my first official party at the French Embassy. In the late evening I was requested to answer the phone. It was my mother, worried because of my not returning home at the usual time. Very upset and somewhat ashamed to be considered as an oblivious child before my workmates, I answered her very nastily and hanged up. Sixty years later, I still feel ashamed and guilty of my behavior…” It moved me a lot and I confusedly understood at that time that children are always ungrateful to their parents. I was all the more confused as I couldn’t identify any situation in which I hurt my parents, though I was one hundred percent sure there had already been a lot. What will I be mortified by, when I grew older? Early in the morning the following day, I ran to the bookshop and bought the only three Cohen’s novels they had in stock and plunged into it, longing to feel some new emotions. I did…far beyond my expectations. Then I went through the complete bibliography of Romain Gary. I loved the extremely talented writer, but even more the smart guy who had fooled the whole literary microcosm, being rewarded twice the Goncourt Prize, using a fake identity and even a body double to answer interviews. It took me weeks read his twenty novels, but once again it was worth the effort and I experienced a real enchantment. I ate up dozens, if not hundreds of books in the following months. I read especially authors who suicide themselves (Gary had been the first), because it was for me an obvious evidence of clear-sightedness, or even better, an ultimate stroke of genius. Kennedy Toole (how can one be so hilarious and so desperate?), Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Stefan Sweig, Sylvia Plath among others. Despite this tragic surroundings, I proved to be relatively successful in my studies.
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“Caminante, no hay caminose hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace el camino…”2
Antonio Machado, Proverbios y cantares (XXIX)
4.
One can legitimately wonder why after such enthusiastic experiences, I am now starting an Artistic curriculum, (and some other more perversely why I still lay like a slug on my couch}. That’s a good question. First, after two years gulping down other’s works I need some personal and fulfilling achievement. I claim to be actively involved and want to let my own creativity speak. What better than art can satisfy such a request? Second, the “fields of human knowledge” are vast, even infinite, and the more I investigate new areas, the more rewarding it is. But something still upsets me: Why is that one have to choose among mutually exclusive options? Aren’t there any intersection common to these domains, to be enjoyed. Take Jose Luis Borges, or Raymond Queneau, for instance. Or Bertrand Russel or Jean Cocteau or even more relevant, most of ancient philosophers, aren’t they perfect embodiments of multi-purpose, almost universal curiosity? Some of them, at the same time, mathematicians, physicians, politicians or activists, writers, musicians… I hate the artificial dichotomy between humanities and ‘hard’ science. I hate to choose this and not that. “To govern is to choose!” once said Mendes-France,
2 “While you walk there is no path. Path creates itself while going ahead”
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one of our former prime minister. Sometimes I feel like enduring my life rather than governing it. Some opportunities are given to me. I randomly follow one bough among thousands available within the realm of the possible. So many things to discover, so many sirens, so much hesitation, and so few real decisions. I have to be curious. Curiosity pulls you forward. Everything is appealing. I am attracted by so numerous celestial bodies and have no real passion. One can succumb to only one passion because genuine passion totally fills your life and completely fulfills you. You can’t be a part-time artist, a part-time scientist or writer. There must be a true dedication, a true and entire involvement. It needs blood, sweat and tears. It may be the only way to really enjoy your life, give it a meaning, and sometimes the only means to produce masterpieces. And you know what that sucks! So many alternatives may be missed in the process. Nothing is simple, see. How could I take the right decision? I have no certitude. I am confused and afraid of taking the wrong path, if there is any path. Is it indecision of a sensitive artist, doubt, low self-image, fear of failure that make choices so difficult to make?
“Procastination”, says Dad, confirming his virtuosity in the art of concision.
5. Mrs Blanche
Mrs and Mr Blanche are a quite happy couple. She (78), and her husband (85) still live together in their little flat, on the tenth floor of “La belle vie”, Monge Street, 18, a condominium
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mainly occupied by retired people. Most women of her age, most of her friends actually, are either already dead or already widows. That is probably why Mrs Blanche feels happy. She considers herself quite lucky. Their two children have reached a comfortable, and in her opinion, high enough step on the social ladder, and are not source of any worry anymore. Their cat ‘Pamplemousse” is almost 13, and is likely to die before them. That may be the only thing they fear and will make them sad. They feel comfortable with death. They have had their time. Mostly a good time. She was a primary school teacher. She enjoyed it a lot. Had great moments with the kids and has always thought that it was a very rewarding job. Raymond, was a foreman in a little Toy factory. He had no problem with his boss and some of his workmates even became friends. They usually play cards at Mario’s on Saturday evenings. Raymond is not a very demanding person.
The unit is neat. Mrs Blanche, like every day, has woken up early and has the housework done. She has vacuumed every inch of the carpeted floor. The dish had already been washed the previous evening, of course, and tidied. She hates to have even a fork left drying besides the sink. “We don’t like messy place, don’t we Raymond?” Raymond’s silence is always denoting his total agreement.
It’s Saturday. The Community Farm Market day. Mrs Blanche is in a particularly good shape and she feels like walking two blocks to reach the market. The Fall’s temperature is still very clement, and one have to enjoy it before the winter comes! (Though “there’s no season anymore!
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The planet is mad, let me tell you!”). She takes the elevator and leaves the building, at her slow pace, with small steps, a basket hanged on her right forearm. She was right: the air is mild. She has not much to buy, because her son Patrick (”How kind of you, my boy!”) has already made the “Big errand” for her, last Wednesday. The market is only an alibi. Perhaps, if the florist is there, she’s going to buy some pansies to embellish her little balcony. She strolls through the tables covered with vegetables, outfits, and various stuff. At the end of the alley she glimpses her florist. There seems to be a wide choice of plants and flowers. She is happy that her little project becomes tangible.
Half an hour later, satisfied with her buying, she’s back to her apartment. It is 12:00. She has to fix something to eat, because Raymond, stuck in front of the TV set, wants to eat every day at 12:30. Sharp. Hurry! Hurry! It will take one minute to arrange her new flower pot, besides the venerable cactus on the balcony.
6. Life
It’s 11. My “precious bodily fluids”, as Doctor Strangelove’s insane general Ripper would say, are becoming vivid again. I need a shower to complete the revival process. The cool water on my skin does the job. I feel really better, kind of alert. I wrap a towel around my waist. A glimpse in the steamy mirror confirms my guess, I look like the legitimate son of Apollo or
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Neptune (an ephemeral picture of Neptune’s imposing chariot arising from my tub, crosses my mind. I smile) Such a divine and sexy body would certainly impress girls…if there were any girl. Why not try to start some new romance while under the charm of self-confidence returned? I take my smartphone and scrolls through my (very short) contact page. Except my sister Michele, there’s only one female firstname listed : Anne. I didn’t even remember I had her phone number. “Parapraxis!” would say Dad, whose jargon is sometimes incomprehensible. Let’s try Anne then.
“Anne? Anne Bellot? It’s Paul. Remember me? The Creative Writing course, last semester? I’m not imposing? How are you doing Today?”
“Oh. Paul. Yes, Paul. How are you? It’s been a while…”
“Yeah. Sure. I’ve been kind of busy, like, lately, with college stuff.”
“Ohhh. I see.”
I doubt she was seeing anything actually. I took the plunge:
“What about having a glass at Mario’s. You know the place near college. They have a terrace and awesome beers. How does it sound?”
“Hummm”. I’ve been working on an assignment for hours…Seeing sunlight would probably do me some good…Why not. What time?”
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I just can’t believe my ears…
”Awesome, Anne! Let’s say 11:30 at Mario’s. Is it ok?”
“Ok, Paul. 11:30.”
“See you there, then. Bye Anne.”
I’m still not realizing it’s true. I’m going to have a glass with Anne Bellot. A knockout. Her, with me. What an asshole I am. I could have called her earlier, instead of wasting my time living by proxy, through Cohen and Gary. Real life has some good sides after all.
I slip a shirt, and a short pant and rushes out the apartment. It’s 11:20. I’m not late for once. Mario’s terrace is almost full. I find a sun bathed table, with two chairs, that face the street (how romantic!). The waiters, with their traditional white shirts and aprons and black trousers, busy themselves around the tables like a little family of worried penguins. They shout their orders to the man at the counter, in a merry cacophony. Glasses clink, forks tinkle, amidst some incomprehensible pieces of conversation. I am a bit anxious. She is probably already regretting his compassion, and is changing her mind. She is going to invent some alibi and call me back. I shouldn’t be so enthusiastic, so optimistic. I am going to be disappointed again. But against all odds, like in slow motion, here she comes. She wears a tiny white T-shirt with blue stripes and a close fit pair of jeans. Her short boyish haircut highlights her slender neck and a few strands cast
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flashes in the sun. She IS Jean Seberg in “Breathless”. I am NOT Jean-Paul Belmondo, but I’ll do my best.
“Heyyyy Paul! How are you? (she’s gorgeous and furthermore warm)
“How are YOU?”
We kiss and hug. Even if it hasn’t started very well, today is eventually a lovely day.
Because she has some appointment, we spend only half an hour at Mario’s, but it seems only the blink of an eye. I really appreciate she has been able to come even though. Our conversation is more than friendly, we tackle any topic with the same exaltation. We have apparently a lot in common, and both of us really enjoy our time together. She takes again my phone number and we swear (it really sounds a reliable promise) to meet again very shortly. She leaves with a little, shy wave of the hand.
She’s gone and she’s still there. Her smile is once and for all, carved in my retina. I parsimoniously sip the bottom of my glass to make this moment last a little longer. I am in the mood to take some strong resolutions: I will commit myself to my college year at Magritte’s, and then I will eagerly prepare the exam to enter the prestigious “Ecole du Louvres”. I won’t certainly be an artist, it’s too late and I’m not enough passionate, but I could reasonably become an Art auctioneer. It’s a quite lucrative job, that requires a very heterogeneous profile. After my conversation with Anne, I’m almost convinced that’s a good and wise choice. It sounds great to
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me, it will please Mum and Dad, and my skills in literature and science won’t be lost after all. What more could I ask?
Very light hearted I leave Mario’s terrace. It’s 12:01 and I feel like walking in Paris sunny streets. I am going to make a little detour by Monge Street, and enjoy the way back to my little studio…
7. Facts
Date: 09/03/2014
Time: GMT +2:00 (Paris): 12:03
GPS coordinates: 48.848536, 2.350312 (Google Streetview: Monge Street, 18)
Initial height: 45 feet
Initial speed: 0 meter/second
Weight: 3 pounds
Final height: 6.2 feet
Speed of impact: 22 meters/second (50 mph)
Brain Acceleration within skull: 3G
Exact location of the impact: Left temporal lobe
Aftermaths: Irreversible, lethal.

Digital formats and the Kiss principle

Digital formats and the Kiss principle

Certainly due to my scientific background or more simply to my advanced age and my subsequent difficulties to memorise things; when acquiring new knowledge, i need to find some logic to cling to, to find rules or invariants (which human brains and senses are found of). My point is: Is there a logic behind the progression of digital format standards?

Lets go through it.

720p is the heigth (H) of the 1st common one. Assuming the well known ratio 16/9 applies  here comes the 1280px width :-)
lets try the 1080p then: H=1080 hence L= 1080/9×16=1920px  🙂 :-)
2K ? must imply 2048 px Heigth…oups 2K is no more the heigth but the width now  🙁
Never mind, H should be 2048×9/16= 1152 . Unlucky again! After the textbook it’s 1556: the ratio has changed :-( :-(
What about 4K ? logic returns! (in some way) 4K is 4x2K definition, and not 2 times because the definition is the square of a length…
To be definitely lost, it appears that there are ‘other’ 2K and 4K definitions compliant with the 16/9 ratio… or not!

(1) The KISS principle or Keep It Simple Stupid (2), is a principle of efficiency that has been used in massive collaborative development projects such as Linux Operating System writing.
(2) it has very little to do, even if the perspective is tempting here, with the ‘Kiss me stupid’ A.K.A the ‘Billy Wilder Principle’…

Why the hell should we read heart of darkness?

Why should we read “Heart of Darkness”? A response to J.Hillis Miller.

After having read some responses on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, I found J. Hillis Miller’s one particularly interesting. Undoubtedly critics change our understanding of a text, but asking whether you should read or not Conrad’s novel is a very radical way to question the reader (incidentally I must admit it echoes some doubts deeply buried in my unconscious). Furthermore, this key question raised by a praised literary critic, is certainly something worth studying. Thinking of it, a posteriori, it proves that we, and especially I, might probably have not. That’s the risky thesis I will try to support in the following lines.
At first I will address the paradox pointed by Miller: To decide if a work is worth reading with full knowledge… we must first read it! Is it reasonable then to ask the question?
Then, Miller notices that “Heart of Darkness” suffered many prosecutions and trials, and that it should be taken as a literary work and no other genre. Hence I will scrutinize some literary features he emphasizes in the novel.
Eventually Miller evokes Conrad’s amazing descriptive skills, I will express my views about his creativity and his consequent lack of commitment.
Should the question be asked? …I really wonder: In the beginning of his response, Miller himself raises a paradox stating that “It is impossible to authoritatively decide whether or not we should read [it] without reading it.” and he even adds “Nothing can be more problematic than Didier DELEGLISE “Heart of Darkness” – September 2014 – Essay .
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professor of literature deciding collectively whether we should read the [novel].” 1 The insistence to challenge his own thesis, cannot be incidental, and rhetorically speaking is for me a way to shoot in his own foot. If we do have to read a book to make ones opinion (which I really believe) what is the use of critics then. Nobody can “authoritatively” decide for us, where is our free will then? But some enlightened people can at least give us some advices. Along the same lines, another important issue, Miller doesn’t mention, is that “Heart of darkness’ having already been read by an amazing number of students and above all by many scholars 2 for more than a century, the question comes very late.
1 Somewhat oblivious of his first legitimate interrogation, he ends his well-argued essay with this peremptory affirmation: “there is an obligation to do so”
2 Its interesting to check on Google that Joyce’s Ulysses , for example, is cited 3 times more than Conrad’s Heart of Darkness BUT that if the keyword “criticism” is added Conrad’s then appears to 50% more present!
Praised since the beginning, more as a popular Adventure Novella, than an anti-imperialist or anti-colonialist claim (which is not surprising, assuming the historical context and common beliefs in Europe at that time), Heart of Darkness has been discussed a lot, by very eminent people throughout the 20th century. Along with Achebe, I think mainly scholars may be held responsible for his contemporary success, and that students are the largest part of its audience. But either advised or asked to read it, should we read it as a literature work?
Miller lists some devices Conrad uses in his novel. Obviously there are two narrators: After some introductory pages by a first narrator, Marlowe introduces himself in a quite visionary way, warning not only his mates but the potential readers as well: “I don’t want to bother you much with what happened to me personally” (p7). Then ignorant of the possible answers, he monopolizes Didier DELEGLISE “Heart of Darkness” – September 2014 – Essay .
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the speech until the end of the novel3. I doubt if somebody, say I for example, writes a text with two (or even more) narrators it will be sufficient to classify his work as a literary work.
3 It’s interesting to notice that Kurtz the second, if not the most important character, only utters two words
4 If the use of “like’ was a criteria for literary works, every American people under 25 would be a Nobel prize!
5 To put things into perspective, Joyce only 10 years later made real literary inventions. More recently, Raymond Queneau’s Master pieces don’t rely on any literary device but almost every page conceals a genuine and hitherto unseen literary creation.
The use or abuse of “similes”, “as” and “like”4 as advocated by Miller, is, to say the least, not so obvious in Conrad’s work. Not as obvious whatever, as the very often discussed plethora of adjectives. The presence of similes, is a light argument to make the novel a literary piece of Art. For example, during the first encounters of black people (14&15), moments that can legitimately be considered as very important while telling the story of a travel through the heart of Africa, “like” appears only twice within the two pages. Though less enthusiastic than Miller when he speaks about “episodes with extreme vividness [] brought by Conrad’s remarkable descriptive power”, I acknowledge some sense of description and details, as displayed for example in his flight of lyricism (16): “They were called criminals and the outraged law like the bursting shells had come to them an insoluble mystery from the sea. Behind this raw matter one of the reclaimed, the product of new forces, strolled despondently carrying a riffle by its middle. He had a uniform jacket with one button off and seeing a white man on the path hoisted his weapon to his shoulder with alacrity”. Shouldn’t we agree with Conrad himself then, and say his novel is only, I quote “some sordid farce acted in front of a sinister black-cloth”?
Despite his qualities and his technical appeal to literary devices5, Conrad sometimes seem to lack of inspiration. Miller says that one of the most important literary device used is “that displacement from Conrad to two imaginary narrators [that] invites the reading as literature” To say it in a more mundane way, Conrad chose a Frame narrative form for his story. This type of Didier DELEGLISE “Heart of Darkness” – September 2014 – Essay .
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narration, far from being original was rather a convention for genre stories in the 19th century. Furthermore the ground had already been prepared as early as in the 14th century: Boccaccio’s Decameron (1353) and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (c.1390), and later on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) to name only a few. Besides his “remarkable descriptive power” Conrad is also capable of very poor similes as when he describes black people: “they had faces like grotesque”, “a lot of people, mostly black and naked moved about like ants” or Kurtz’s agony: “his life running swiftly out [as the brown current…towards the sea]”. Moreover, his desperate efforts to loop the loop, to echo the very dark and artificial atmosphere of the opening scene on the Thames with an even more artificially solemn and displaced last sentence of the novel: “into the heart of an immense darkness” are not ringing true to anybody, and especially to me.
There’s also a permanent and stubborn refusal (failure?) to describe Africa or Africans. Marlowe bitterly admits (14): “Nowhere did we stop long enough to get a particularized impression, but the general of vague and oppressive wonder grew upon me”. “Nowhere”, “vague”, “wonder”, “no particular impression” …can one be more evasive in a single sentence. Moreover, throughout the novel, the numerous adjectives used to describe are almost systematically negative or with a privative prefix. This stubbornness is no more a literary device but an almost systematic rope that he uses to (non) depict the local places and characters. More precisely Conrad often denies sensorial experience or simply comprehension: “unsound”(67), “incomprehensible”(14),(16), ”inscrutable”(61),” unspeakable”(62),” impenetrable”(67),” indefinable” (67), …
Eventually there may be nothing to speak of!: “Nothing happened”, “nothing could happen” (14), “they were nothing” (17), “stare at nothing”(17), “there was nothing, there was nothing”(28) Didier DELEGLISE “Heart of Darkness” – September 2014 – Essay .
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Miller also sings some prayers about the description of the indescribable (?): In an apex of his powerful skill, Conrad tries to qualify the “thing”, the “it” he mentions so many times and failed again. “it” is actually deaf and mute6: “this was great, expectant, mute […] that thing that couldn’t talk and perhaps was deaf as well”(56). One page later he confesses with insistence that “it is impossible, it is impossible to convey the life sensation of any given epoch”. Which I easily acknowledge.
6 Fortunately ‘it’ doesn’t seem to be blind as well. But p15, as if there were not enough reference to darkness , when there is sunlight it’s a “blinding” one
7 In his personal life, his participation in the anti-colonialist movement was very discrete unlike some of his fellow writers
To me, this non commitment in the description of important protagonists of the story, finally betrays Conrad’s lack of political commitment. In the novel he never really takes sides of the anti-Imperialists7 . He only describes some vague aftermath of its excesses. For example, concerning the most disputable of his character Mr Kurtz: he makes it clear “You can’t judge Mr Kurtz” (56).
Conrad had written to his first publisher Blackwood before the first instalment of the novella and confessed that the idea behind the scene was “the criminality of inefficiency and pure selfishness when tackling the civilizing work in Africa”. How committee to qualify colonialism and imperialism of “civilizing work” and to only notice the inefficiency of the process!
Let’s conclude, as Miller did, in going even further beyond our first statements and questions. We tried to answer that maybe we shouldn’t have read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but given his proven “unspeakable” and “inscrutable” object, some may claim that it was (at least) a challenge to write it.

Stanley Kubrick’s Images and Sounds: a POP legacy

Stanley Kubrick’s Images and sounds: a POP legacy.

« I think that one of the problems with twentieth-century art is its preoccupation with subjectivity and originality at the expense of everything else. This has been especially true in painting and music. Though initially stimulating, this soon impeded the full development of any particular style, and rewarded uninteresting and sterile originality. At the same time, it is very sad to say, films have had the opposite problem — they have consistently tried to formalize and repeat success, and they have clung to a form and style introduced in their infancy. The sure thing is what everyone wants, and originality is not a nice word in this context. This is true despite the repeated example that nothing is as dangerous as a sure thing. »

Kubrick On Innovation:

Table of Content

Introduction
Are Kubrick’s films Elitist or Popular Culture?
Tributes to « The SHINING »
Music in « 2001 »
Music in « The Shining »
Music in « Barry Lyndon »
Music in « a Clockwork Orange »
References , Sources and Sountracks

Introduction

The critics often splitted when Stanley Kubrick’s films where launched, but  most of these works finally found their audience. Moreover, some of them such as « The Shining » , « 2001, a space Odyssey », « Barry Lyndon » or « A clockwork Orange » include scenes or music that have become cult and are now a part of the English/American POP culture.
We will focus on the four films quoted above, produced in the middle of Stanley Kubrick’s carreer, between 1968 and 1980. Our statements will be largely illustrated by Kubrick’s enlightening comments on his work.

As a little reminder, let’s first give an exhaustive list of Kubrick’s Filmography as a Director(1).
(Where it is obviously confirmed that the ‘Master’ had explored all genres)

      • 1999, « Eyes Wide Shut »
      • 1987, « Full Metal Jacket »
      • 1980, « The Shining »
      • 1975, « Barry Lyndon »
      • 1971, « A Clockwork Orange »
      • 1968, « 2001: A Space Odyssey »
      • 1964, « Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb »
      • 1962, « Lolita »
      • 1960, « Spartacus »
      • 1957, « Paths of Glory »
      • 1956, « The Killing »
      • 1955, « Killer’s Kiss »
      • 1953, « Fear and Desire »

(1) as a Director he also issued 3 Documentary shorts: The Seafarers (1953), Day of the Fight (1951), Flying Padre (1951)

Are Kubrick’s films Elitist or Popular Culture?

Films such as « 2001 » or some scenes from « The Shining » or « A clockwork Orange’ might have seemed abstruse to the audience and dedicated to a certain elite. When asked to explain the inner meaning of his film « 2001: A Space Odyssey », Stanley Kubrick once deflected:
« How much would we appreciate La Gioconda today if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: « This lady is smiling slightly because she has rotten teeth »…it would shut off the viewer’s appreciation and shackle him to a « reality » other than his own. »!
The Music scholar David Patterson once stated that « Some Kubrick’s films stands in many minds as the quintessence of the filmic Rorschach! »
Anyway, as we mentioned earlier, most of Kubrick’s masterpieces finally became more and more popular, and end praised by an important audience.

Interestingly, in (very) popular culture, tributes to Kubrick always put the score very explicitly on the foreground. SO not only cinema critics but artists and the ‘common’ audience pay particular attention to sounds and music in Kubrik’s works. A few emblematic examples can be found just below:

      • the SIMPSON’S PARODY including 2001, a Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full metal Jacket
      • The SPACE ODYSSEY Trailer for the 2014 new release  in the UK
      • the very smart and funny IKEA SINGAPORE ADVERTISING for night shopping / shining
      • or eventually  SIMPSON’s TRIBUTE more focused on a Clockwork Orange and Eyes wide shut


Film critics and Kubrick’s producer Jan Harlan, insisted on the enormous influence « The Shining » for instance, has had on popular culture. In an Interview with Movie Mundo, the latter was asked the following question: « And what do you think he would have thought of the film’s huge influence on popular culture? » and he answered:
« In retrospect Kubrick would have certainly been delighted. Unfortunately the response on first release was disappointing. It took a long time until The Shining found its audience. From a film-business point, this is regrettable. But this is the destiny of many artists – just think of the French Impressionists. »

Among many other additional examples, such fields as surprising as ‘cutting edge Technologies’ hasn’t been left aside. Here is for example, an Advertisement dated 2009  for an Internet search engine!

Tributes to « The SHINING »

« The Shining » and series

A lot of TV series (the paradigm of popular Art?)n as well have acknowledged the popular success of Shining in paying a tribute to the film in one or more episodes. It includes::

      • « Its always sunny in Philadelphia » (2010)
      • « The Office » (2008)
        Quoting the famous sentences “All work and no play makes Jakes (here Michael the Boss!) a dull boy.
      • « Family Guy » (2009)
        An episode is paired with its film counterpart, but with one little twist. Stewie appears to be both Danny and Jack
      • Get Him to the Greek (2010)
        Where one of the characters shouts “It’s Kubrickian!” — while being chased through Shining-like  never-ending hallways.

Even the world of gamers has also been influenced by Kubrick, namely with an avatar of the ‘shoot them up’ game Duke Nukem 3D (released in 2004). In this version, players could virtually explore the grounds of the Overlook Hotel without limitations

To echo the Simpson’s animated tribute, a very funny (BUNNY?) remake. A kind of challenge because  re enacted by bunnies and including all the major scenes of the film…WITHIN 30 seconds.

Popular Music (as well)

There are many ways to make a music become popular and sentimentally attached to a film. Kubrick mainly used two strategies. First he associated moving music with images with a strong emotional content: as for instance very esthetic picture (as in the famous and smartlygolden-ratio proportioned landscape  displayed in the first image of Barry Lyndon

barry-lyndon-golden-ratio-2

or very violent image, such as in ‘A clockwork Orange’ or ‘frightening one as in ‘Shining’…

The other (and complementary) option is to use well known, easily remembered and already emotionally ‘weighted’ tunes such as praised requiem or symphonies for example, composed by no less praised artists (Beethoven, Strauss and consorts)

Kubrick said  in one of his interview: « Unless you want a pop score, I don’t see any reason not to avail yourself of the great orchestral music of the past and present. This music may be used in its correct form or synthesized, as was done with the Beethoven for some scenes in A Clockwork Orange. But there doesn’t seem to be much point in hiring a composer who, however good he may be, is not a Mozart or a Beethoven, when you have such a vast choice of existing orchestral music which includes contemporary and avant-garde work. Doing it this way gives you the opportunity to experiment with the music early in the editing phase, and in some instances to cut the scene to the music. This is not something you can easily do in the normal sequence of events »

On the Music in « 2001 »

2001 is famous for using Strauss’ pieces. First, as soon as in the opening. one from Richard Strauss: ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ and  from Johann Strauss: ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube’ Waltz, during the long lunar space station traveling scenes. It’s amusing to note that against all expectations THEY are not the same Strauss and that they are not even related…
The last scene (musically) echoing the first scene. After more than one minute of almost total silence, the Strauss’ tune restart echoing the first Apes’ scene.
In addition to the very solemn and pompous character of the music, the title has been smartly chosen to match the enlightment of first apes, discovering tools, about to speak (a couple of millenium later) and why not to philosophy…

2001 ending echoing the 1st scene. Strauss’ music is even more emphasized at the end because the scene remains almost silent during more than one minute.

As Professor Stephen Deutsch put it in « The Soundtrack: Putting Music in its Place »:
« The opening music, was composed as an encomium to Friedrich Nietzsche. In his eponym work  Nietzsche  said: What is ape to man? A laughing stock, an object of shame and pity. Thus is man to Superman.
Evolution is emphesized by the occurence of music at strategic moment in the film; especially when apes became men, men evolve into the the Nietzschean « superman », the embryo like flying above above us »

On the Music in « The SHINING »

The music in « The Shining » and more generally, a very oppressive sound score play an important part in the stress conveyed by the film (Quoted by no less than Martin Scorcese, one of the most frightening horror film ever »…
Stanley Kubrick was Interviewed by the French critic Michel Clement, and concerning specifically the Music, they had the following exchange:

« What type of music did you use? »

« The title music was based on the Dies Irae theme which has been used by many composers since the Middle Ages. It was re-orchestrated for synthesizer and voices by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind, who did most of the synthesizer music for A Clockwork Orange. Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta was used for several other scenes. One composition by Ligeti was used. But most of the music in the film came from the Polish composer Krystof Penderecki. One work titled Jakob’s Dream was used in the scene when Jack wakes up from his nightmare, a strange coincidence. Actually there were a number of other coincidences, particularly with names. The character that Jack Nicholson plays is called Jack in the novel. His son is called Danny in the novel and is played by Danny Lloyd. The ghost bartender in the book is called Lloyd. »

The Opening scene

The Music composed by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind-Tour loosely inspired by medieval and Gregorian songs

Some ‘more’ Original versions of this theme can be found either here  or (a closer one)  here

Stanley Kubrick was especially found of already popular existing music even if adapted to his purpose. As professor Deutch put it (ibid): « Another type of cognitive device available to film is the use of music referentially to infer concepts and issues outside the film’s diegesis. The predominant way this such reference achieved is through the use of music previously composed for another purpose: concert music, popular songs, scores for other films being the most common sources. Stanley Kubrick was most knowing and skilled at using music in this way. The opening electro-acoustic trombone which accompanies the yellow Volkswagen on its way to the lonely Colorado hotel in The Shining (1980), plays the Gregorian plainchant Dies Irae.

A loose translation of the text, quoted below, foreshadows the final drama:

« Day of wrath day of terror !
Heaven and earth to ash consumed,
David’s word and Sibyl’s truth foredoomed!

On the Music in « BARRY LYNDON »

Kubrick’s penchant for classical music is undisputable, and the film score uses pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach (Concerto for violin and oboe), Antonio Vivaldi (Cello Concerto, Cello Sonata in E Minor), Paisiello, Mozart, and Schuber. The piece present in every mind and deeply associated with the film, is the main title music: Handel’s Sarabande. Originally written for harpsichord only, the releases for the main and end titles have been added orchestral strings plus timpanis. It is used at many occasions throughout the film to emphesize the power of fate.

Again Kubrick was more confident in ancient composers…as he explains below in an Interview with Michel Clement:

« Exclude a pop music score from what I am about to say. However good our best film composers may be, they are not a Beethoven, a Mozart or a Brahms. Why use music which is less good when there is such a multitude of great orchestral music available from the past and from our own time? When you’re editing a film, it’s very helpful to be able to try out different pieces of music to see how they work with the scene. This is not at all an uncommon practice. Well, with a little more care and thought, these temporary music tracks can become the final score. »
I decided on Schubert’s Trio while we were editing. Initially, I thought it was right to use only eighteenth-century music. But sometimes you can make ground-rules for yourself which prove unnecessary and counter-productive. I think I must have listened to every LP you can buy of eighteenth-century music. One of the problems which soon became apparent is that there are no tragic love-themes in eighteenth-century music. So eventually I decided to use Schubert’s Trio in E Flat, Opus 100, written in 1828. It’s a magnificent piece of music and it has just the right restrained balance between the tragic and the romantic without getting into the headier stuff of later Romanticism.

Barry Lyndon’s Opening scene

The unforgettable George Friderich Haendel’s Sarabande from the Suite in D minor as a backdrop of the opening scene

And the much less moving original composition discarded by Kubrick

 

Barry Lyndon’s final scene:

The final moments of the film are underscored by the insistently piano trio.
This scene is quite the quintessence of Kubrick’s Art concerning our Thesis. This scene is ‘limited’ (but in such a remarkably aesthetic way) to sounds, backdrop and lights. Not a single word is uttered leaving the music filling the space and the spectator’s brain… As Kubrick once stated:  » the most memorable scenes in the best films are those which are built predominantly of images and music. « 

Trio de Schubert

On the Music in « a Clockwork Orange »

In a Clockwork Orange, Music is both the punishment and the redemption of Alex. It is used to underscore his best moments (that is to say the worst moments for his victims) and also as a Shock treatment. Along with Beethoven and Rossini classics, a lot of composition from Carlos have been used. What is particularly noticeable in the film is the quasi constant use of the music both in a diegetic or a non diegetic background, but also one of the most striking shift between the images we actually witness (mainly scenes of rather extreme violence) and the beauty / lightness of the music.
Which in my opinion makes  ‘American Psycho’ a pale copy of the process.

Kubrick confesses that especially for A Clockwork Orange, the use of existing music instead of having it specifically composed for the film had practical reasons, especially in the timing of events during the film making.He could make test earlier, incorporate the material earlier in the editing process as well.

It has to be noticed that in his previous film, he quite inelegantly got rid of the contemporary composer North’s (to whom a special command had yet been asked) to finally use another composer’s existing work (2)

(2) Ligetti, who by the way, was never credited…

Stanley Kubrick, though constantly renewing his work, in trying new genres from one film to another. Though he was sometimes (often?)  shooting dreamlike (if not abstruse) scenes, succeeded in obtaining popular favor. Far from being elitist his films are now universally praised. His mastery of the Art of Cinema has made his images and sound a part of our artistic heritage.

 

References and sources

Shining’s soundtrack

      • Music for strings, percussion and Celesta (Movement III) Music by Béla Bartók
      • Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) inspired by Berlioz 
      • Rocky Mountains Written and Performed by Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind
      • Lontano Written by György Ligeti
      • The Awakening of Jakob (uncredited) Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
      • Utrenja – Ewangelia (uncredited) Music by Krzysztof Penderecki
      • Utrenja – Kanon Paschy Music by Krzysztof Penderecki
      • de Natura Sonoris No.1 and no 2 Music by Krzysztof Penderecki
      • Polymorphia Music by Krzysztof Penderecki
      • Masquerade Music by John Jacob Loeb
      • Midnight, the Stars and You   Written by Jimmy Campbell, Reginald Connelly, Harry M. Woods
      • It’s All Forgotten Now Written by Ray Noble
      • Home (When Shadows Fall)   Written by Peter Van Steeden, Geoffrey Clarkson and Harry Clarkson
      • Kanon for 52 string orchestra and tape Music by Krzysztof Penderecki

Barry Lyndon’s Soundtrack

  • PIANO TRIO IN E-FLAT, OP 100 (second movement)  Composed by Franz Schubert
  • GERMAN DANCE No.1 IN C-MAJOR Composed by Franz Schubert
  • CELLO CONCERTO IN E-MINOR (3rd. movement) Composed by Antonio Vivaldi
  • CONCERTO FOR 2 HARPSICHORDS AND ORCHESTRA IN C-MINOR (adagio) Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
  • THE BARBER OF SEVILLE (cavatina) Composed by Giovanni Paisiello
  • IDOMENEO (march) Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • HOHENFRIEDBERGER MARCH Composed by Frederick The Great
  • TIN WHISTLES Composed by Sean O’Riada
  • WOMEN OF IRELAND Composed by Sean O’Riada
  • PIPER’S MAGGOT JIG Traditional
  • THE SEA MAIDEN Traditional
  • BRITISH GRENADIERS (fife and drum) Traditional
  • LILLIBURLERO (fife and drums) Traditional
  • Sarabande Written by George Frideric Handel (as Georg Friedrich Händel)
    From the Suite for Harpsichord No. 4 in d minor, HWV 437 – Arranged for orchestra

Clockwork Orange’s soundtrack

  • Symphony No.9 in D Minor, Opus 125 Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • The Thieving Magpie (Overture) by Gioachino Rossini
  • Molly Malone (1883) aka « Cockles and Mussels »
  • William Tell (Overture) by Gioachino Rossini
  • I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper composed and performed by Erika Eigen
  • Singin’ In the Rain by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown
  • March from ‘Funeral Music for Queen Mary’ (uncredited) Written by Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
  • Pomp and Circumstance Marches No.1 and 4 by Edward Elgar
  • Orange Minuet Composed by Wendy Carlos
  • The Sea And Sinbad’s Ship From « Scheherazade » (Bible Fantasy Scene)
  • Biblical Daydreams composed by Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind
  • Timesteps Composed by Wendy Carlos (as Walter Carlos)
  • Country Lane Composed by Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind

2001’s Soundtrack

  • Gayaneh Ballet Suite (1941-2) Music by Aram Khachaturyan
  • Atmospheres (1961) Music by György Ligeti
  • Lux Aeterna (1966) Music by György Ligeti
  • Requiem (1963) (« Requiem, for Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, 2 Mixed Choirs & Orchestra »)
    Music by György Ligeti
  • The Blue Danube (1866) Music by Johann Strauß (as Johann Strauss)
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra Music by Richard Strauss
  • Adventures (1962) (uncredited) Music by György Ligeti
  • Happy Birthday to You (1893) (uncredited)
  • Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Built for Two) (1893) (uncredited)
  • Off Beats Mood by Sidney Torch

Force majeure

Force majeure

Un film Suedois sense, souvent derangeant et parfois tres drole, ce qui ne gache rien.  Ca se passe en France dans une station de Ski et accessoirement offre des plans tres esthetiques et tres « parlants » (si on peut dire) de la Montagne.
Ci dessous qq commentaires personnels utilises pour mon cours de Cinema:

A film by Swedish director and writter Ruben Östlund, I have never heard of. It was selected to compete in the « Un Certain Regard » section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Jury Prize.
It is a precisely observed psychodrama that tells the story of a model Swedish family on a skiing holiday in the French Alps. Confronted to an avalanche, real personalities reveal and the cohesion of the family is threatened. It explores gender stereotypes and assumptions. It is disturbing and sometimes very funny.
The myth of the hero is at stake here, and interestingly it shows how such « cultural’ and emotional topic may have an impact on people not involved in the event but equally disturbed and threatened (ie here, another couple of neighbors (2) or even more amazingly couples in the audience! (hence my advice: better to be watched alone)
A very interesting observation of Interior conflicts (the essence of Fiction, as my Creative Writing teacher says).

Side comment: A couple of scenes were very funny, but in the theater most people were constantly laughing even in reaction to very dramatic scenes. I hope it was a sign of discomfort rather than a total misunderstanding of the film… (3)

(1) from this pint of view, a bad move because the language was Swedish and the subtitles English. It is also interesting to note that the only French character recurrently appearing in the film, is a kind of pervert
(2) the male member of which states smartly « The hero is the enemy here »
(3) During the screening of « Dumb and Dumber to » (a less controversial piece of Art) there were less laughters (??) (4)
(4) for the anecdote there is an explicit quotation of Robert Conrad « Heart of Darkness » in the latter. Something I found unexpected but very smart to help blur the borders between genres

Le Comic du jour

Le Comic du jour

pig
J’ai decouvert ca. C’est amusant (souvent) et abscons (parfois) comme du Dilbert sauf que Dilbert c’est le contraire.
Le gars peut pas etre foncierement mauvais il s’appelle Stephan PASTIS (et en plus c’est un admirateur invertebre de Bill Watterson).

By the way, j’ai appris que « (cast)Pearls before swines » c’est « donner de la confiture aux cochons » et que ca vient du sermon sur la Montagne de Jesus (fils de).
Mystique que je vous dit!

L’idiome du village

L’idiome du village

Quelques idiomes ou proverbe glanes ca et la…enfin surtout ici (a Chicago).
QUIZZ: trouver l equivalent francais !!

  • To have goose pimple ; avoir des boutons comme une oie…ou…
  • to top it off : pour couronner le tout
  • It will be a cold day in Hell before…: il fera froid en enfer avant que…ou..
  • out of sight, out of mind : loin du regard, loin de l’esprit …ou…
  • every rose has its thorn : chaque rose a son epine…ou …
  • It is not his strong suit : ce n’est pas son costume costaud / fort …ou…
  • to be on edge : etre sur le bord …ou avoir les nerfs / etre a cran

3 Poemes

3 poemes

Bizarrement en cours de POETRY on ne fait pas que lire des poemes…il faut aussi en ecrire.
J’en ai fait 3, c’est bien fait pour vous. Any comment welcome!

Michigan

Thirty “Cathedrales De Rouen”,
Fifty-eight “Meninas”,
Forty-eight “Preludes And Fugues”,
Ninety-nine “Exercises In Style”
and even “One Hundred Thousand Billion Sonnets”.
Under an overwrought lid of clouds,
the same every day and every day
a new blue, green, brown or gray.
Infinite hues
the vastest palette couldn’t confine,
the wittiest words couldn’t tell:
One lake.

The Maracas players
It is a Maracas player shaking its cup endlessly.
It is a fetid shape laid on a CTA carriage floor.
It is an elephantine silhouette, crippled with its protective layers.
It is a toothless female in rags, clung to its walking frame.
It is a frozen heap of clothes with a dog at its feet.
It is a cardboard, small enough to contain all its hopes.
It is a God-bless-you-sir utterer, God never blesses.
It is no more than a winey breath that curses.
It is a doomed soul, no one listens to nor sees.
Abstract Alph’Art
Panama: a banal land…and a damn canal:

A macadam path past a barn,
a tall lad grasps a pan and casts a ball.
A Cat, claws as sharp as katakanas,
scratch an aghast anabas,
and apart, shark jaws gasp
as ajar kavakavas jars.
Bananas’ abacas mats
hang at a wall.
Bats and Aras as black as kalamatas,
flap and fan:
What a canvas all that draws!
 

 

 

Cinema 2eme…

Cinema 2eme…
Ce post c est plutot un aide memoire et aussi des suggestions pour ceux qui s interessent a ce noble Art. Notre prof de Cinema (Miss Kaufman) est super interessante, et ratisse assez large en termes de gout et de competences. On en aura un apercu ici.

Je vous passe les frere Lumiere et Melies, 2 illustres inconnus Francais mais dont on a parle qd meme.

The Man with the Movie Camera(1929), un docu russe de 1929 par Vertov

Le debut de Metropolis, qui graphiquement vaut son pesant de cacahuettes…

Plus experimental, La jetee de Chris Marker 1962 (tourne a Orly…Essonnes!!)

et pour se detendre (mais dont la photo vaut le deplacement): La vie secrete de Walter Mitty , de et avec Ben Stiller. On prend direct les billets pour aller en Islande!\

Je passe aussi sous silence l incontournable (et malheureusement imputrescible) WIZARD OF OZ, qui reste a mon sens un redoutable navet (meme pour l epoque). Mais c est un pilier de la culture locale.
On a vu vu plein d’extraits d A BOUT DE SOUFFLE aussi. C’etait beau.

Movie theater…

Movie theater…

Les salles (theaters) de cinema sont en general confortables. Sur la photo je ne suis pas sur que Claudine ne sphoto(2)e soit pas endormie (5mn avant moi). ‘En general’ parce que elle n’ont pas toutes des sieges en cuir, electriques et avec position allongee, genre classe affaire d’ Airbus A380. J en ai trouve des bien plus pourries depuis (a Lincoln Square par exemple).

Hier je suis alle au Festival du Film International a l’AMC (une chaine de salle US) situe sur Eat Illinois Street. J’ai vu d’abord « CONCRETE NIGHT » de Pirjo Honkasalo (on connait que lui a Chicago, bien qu’il soit Finnois). C’est en noir et blanc, mais surtout en noir, tres noir. C’est graphique, esthetique, un peu long et parfois un peu derangeant mais je le conseille. Dans le genre famille de paumes Finnois c’est un must. Un jeune desempare, un frere nihiliste et delinquant, une mere seule, alcoolique.

concreteJ’ai vu ensuite « NE ME QUITTE PAS » de  Niels van Koevorden (on connait que lui a Chicago, bien qu’il soit Flamand). Ca repose. 1) c’est en Francais (et un peu en Flamand) et 2)  le portrait de ces 2 poivrots improbables, plus vrais que nature est souvent  hilarant. Y a pas a dire, j’aime le cinema Belge, a defaut d’aimer la biere (belge ou pas)..

Ci apres on voit Bob et Marcel. Bob cherche un arbre super beau a cote duquel il aime bien se ressourcer (en buvant du Rhum), il veut le montrer a Marcel et pi il le trouve pas pasqu’on la coupe ou ki se rappelle pu ou il est …c’est le debut. Ca commence mal.

PS: je me demande si c’est un documentaire ou une fiction…Si c’est un docu c’est encore plus fort.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

A voir les Bulls

A voir les Bulls…

Pour une fois que ca fait plaisir…Bon on avait les Nuggets aussi (de Denver, pas de Mc Do) !
C etait au United Center Chicago, Lundi 13/10 , avec Damien et Thierry. Une bonne soiree avec l’hymne americain chante par un baryton obscur, et le gros black de la securite  qui nous dit de pas bouger paskon est arrives en retard et qu’on a pas la main sur le coeur…
dddamth

Coup de bol…

Coup de bol…

La semaine derniere je me baladais dans Millenium Park, apres avoir fait mon parcours velo classique 9Berwin – Millenium, via le Lakeshore Drive) et coup de bol il y avait un concert symphomique gratuit au Pritzker Pavillion. Merci Chicago (et merci Franck Gerry)

DSCN3689

DSCN3685

Amish paradise and Indiana Junes

Amish paradise and Indiana Junes

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Comme pour changer j’ai eu une semaine assez studieuse j’ai decide de profiter des  super vacances du semestre: le FALL BREAK, soit 2 jours (en plus du week-end) Je n’aurai qu’un mot:  :-((
Donc JE prends des vacances. Je vais louer une bagnole et decouvrir l’est de Chicago (en passant par le Sud, parce que l’Est de Chicago…c’est le lac Michigan).
Apres recherche sur le web je decouvre qu’il y a une communaute Amish dans le coin, des Dunes de Sable, des petits ports…le reve …a 1H30 de chicago. Comme dirait Timsit ca c’etait le projet. Concretement j’ai effectivement vu les Indiana Dunes. C’est un bel endroit…difficile a trouver…mais c’est un bel endroit. Le GPS (de loc en option avec la bagnole) ne connait pas ‘Indiana dunes’ Indiana dunes national park’ ‘dunes federal park’ et toutes les combinaisons annexes. L’indigene, j’ai nomme la postiere et le mecanicien d;un bled improbable sur la route (entre Detroit et Tchernobil pour la chaleur du decor), ne connaissent pas Indiana Dunes. Le mecano a appele son ‘buddy’ au telephone, qui connait :-)) …mais qui sait pas y aller ;-((
Je repars en longeant le lac vers l’est eten  croisant les doigts.
Le decor ressemble a un Mix de Plan de campagne, apres une guerre eclair, et Fos sur mer, mais en moins bien. Des usines, des ‘Goldoraks’ (pylones electriques), des cheminees, des zones industrielles et des batiment en ruine. tout ca le long d’une voie de chemin de fer, sur fond de brume de pollution et de lac invisible. Ca sent meme comme a Fos; le petrole.
J’ai hate de voir le parc national.
Je finis par y arriver , finalement c’est pres d’un bled qui s’appelle Chesterton (comme le ruban adhesif, sauf que ca s’ecrit pas pareil). Effectivement c;est assez beau et sauvage, mais avec au loin quand meme des acieries. En fait le parc a ete pris sur le terrain des anciennes acieries mais il en reste encore pas mal 9des acieries pas des dunes). Ca me fait nostalger sur mes vacances d’ado a Barneville-Carteret.
Je creve la dalle il est 16h, sur le plan du parc il y a un resto, comme dirait Timsit (je connais que lui comme auteur classique): ce qu’on voit sur le plan c’est le projet. En fait apres une demi heure de marche j’arrive a un batiment ouvert sur le lac…mais ferme aux clients.
Je repars, vais pour monter dans la voiture et decouvre le sentier decouverte qu’il fqllqit prendre. Je redescent et fait un morceau du chemin, pour dire que j’y etais.
Comme je creve toujours la dalle je demande a un autochtone (c’est comme les indigenes mais en plus barbu) si il y a un resto. Non. as dans le coin mais a la Marina oui.
La marina ets connue du GPS (Yessssss!!!!!) donc je ne mets qu’une heure q le trouver…mais il est marque ‘open’ et…ferme.
Je regalere pour rechercher un resto, finalement m’arrete dans un Drive Thru Starbuck tres tres gai (si si), ai envie de me suicider et sens que pour trouver les Amish 9meme si les Amish de mes Amish sont mes Amish0ca va pas etre de la tarte sans plan et avec un GPS sourd et aveugle. Je decide de rentrer a la maison (ca le GPS connait) et de rendre la bagnole un jour et demi plus tot, en esperant qu’ils feront un geste.
Bon demain je reste en terrain connu a Loyola ou Evanston, ca me fera gagner un peu de temps et ptet des vacances aussi.


Bonus track (pour ceux qu’auraient pas vu mon facebook) la varie vie des Amish (ca remplace pas mais ca fait du bien)

Poesie

Poesie…

La semaine derniere avec ma cherie <3 <3 <3
on est alles a la Poetry Foundation pour ecouter des poetes. On l’avait jamais fait en France. C’est vraiment une experience agreable et il s’avere que l’on comprend aussi peu (ou aussi bien) les poetes Americains que les Francais. En plus le batiment de la Poetry Foundation est un tres beau batiment contemporain.
Hier je suis alle ecouter …seul :-((( de la poesie au BOOK CELLAR. C’est une librairie sympa a Lincoln Park (un quartier sympa aussi). Il y a plein de livres sympas, de gens sympas, de la soupe au chili sympa et epicee et du pinard inqualifiable. Bref une soiree sympa.

J’ai donc ecoute Chris GREEN un prof de de Paul University, lire des extraits de son dernier bouquin ‘resume’ (avec des accents aigus mais je les ai pas au clavier).
Voici le « trailer » (y sont trop fort ces amerlocks y font pas que des trailers pour des blocks buster merdiques (shitty) mais aussi pour des trucs plus…comment dirais-je…sympas.
Vous pouvez regarder c’est amusant (et gratuit). C’est des gens qui temoignent de leur premier boulot en general assez improbables.

Coquecigrues

Coquecigrues
Ici donc une liste de petits riens plutot Americains rigoureusement authentiques, et pi un peu de vocabulaire aussi. (To be continued)

velo
Tu prends un velib (Divvy bike) a Berwin et pi tu remontes le bords du lac sur 5 kms. Les gens t’apostrophent pasque t’es un warrior. Tu viens de Downton (la bas tout en bas) en velo. (C meme pas vrai pasque des sations Divvy y en a un peu dans le nord…genre a Berwin)

velo 2
il est aurorise de faire du velo sur les trottoirs…sauf quand c’est interdit ( j ai failli me foutre sur la gueule a cause de ca…donc c’est important}

walk
Si tu marches dans la campagne t’es pas un warrior. T’es en panne et les gens s’arretent et sont inquiets.

<<Oooooooooh myyyyy Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!!!!!!!!>>
(90db mini) traduction :ouais, bof.

like
<< I wez, like, you know, like, just like,… ohhhhh my Gaaaaaaad !!! >> : paradigme de la phrase du jeune – intraduisible – peut servir de virgule ou de point de suspension.
ex: j aime avoir des commentatires positifs sur facebook se dit:
<< I like, like, likes, like >>

Tips
Quand tu paies au resto. Tu as la note, tu donnes ta carte bleue, y la passent dans la Game Boy au fin fond du bar, y la ramene avec le bon a signer  et pi un blanc pour mettre le TIP pourboire.
Tu ecris le pourboires …et apres que t es parti seulement y te debitent le total (enfin t’espere). Tu vas sur credit-agricole.fr …et tu pleures. ( C pas vrai mais c pour maintenir l’intensite dramatique du conflit interieur: Cf mon cours de Creative Writing)

The Windy City
Chicago s’appelle la ville du vent (Mangeclous s’appelle le ‘Capitaine’ des vents et grand bey des menteurs). Chicago est bordee par un magnifique lac: le Lake Michigan qui fait en gros 500kms de long sur 200kms de large et de nombreuse plages de sable.
Il n’y a pas de planche a voile a Chicago, ni de Kite 🙁

Salade
Tu commandes une salade au poulet parce qu’aujourd’hui tu commences le regime (y s’rait temps!).
y t’amene un hamburger genre Big big mac, fait avec des muffins anglais (?), avec dedans de la mayonnaise parfumee, qui cachent du poulet. Il y a effectivement 3 feuilles de salade a cote.

Dessert
T’es avec ta cherie, au Cafe des Architectes, le Joli resto du Sofitel sur Wabash Avenue, Downtown. T’as bien mange. Y avait du pinard buvable. Tu prends qu’un dessert « to share ». T’es content y en quand meme pour 4.

Manque d assurance
nous on check pour verifier, les americains ‘double check’

Radio
J ecoute WKQX (101.1 fm),  c est du rock des annees 90. Ca dechire
J ecoute The Diane Rehm show sur NPR. Ca demoralise. Elle a 120 ans mais elle veut pas lacher le morceau (double check it! its on the web!)

 

Wandering in Door County

Wandering in Door County (pronounce DaarKaaaany)

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La semaine derniere on a loue une bagnole et on est alle passer 3 jours dans le Door County. C’est en gros a 300 bornes au nord de Chigago ( apres Milwaukee), dans le Wisconsin, toujours sur la cote ouest du lac Michigan.
La terre forme une espece de presqu’ile qui s’enfonce dans le lac. Et on peut aller au bout du bout. C’est un peu les Goudes de Chicago mais en plus grand.

La cote ouest de la prequ’ile offre qq villages de pecheurs assez sympas et touristiques ( c’etait le week-end du « Labor day » l’equivqllent de notre 1er mai alors y avait du monde…)

La cote est vers Jackson est plus sauvage et vraiment super. Notamment la cote sauvage et decoupee de Cave Point et le phare de Cana Island qui nous ont beaucoup plu.
On s’est marre en voyant la cuisine du rez de chaussee de ce dernier en pensant au ‘Petit baigneur’ et de Funes qui escalade la tour..

Hard time begins ( ca commence a se compliquer)

Hard time begins ( ca commence a se compliquer)

apart2(Claudine studieuse me soutient moralement)

Le titre on dirait le sous-titre du dernier Batman.
Bon. J’ai commence les cours Mardi. J’ai cours que le mardi et le jeudi. Ca c’est pas mal passe (oui je sais je mets pas les accents mais j’ai un clavier….Americain).
Les salles de cours sont a la hauteur du reste de la fac, c’est a dire nickel. Tout est neuf, y a du matos audio / video et de l’internet qui marche dans toutes les salles. j’ai eu ‘Modern novel’ (le nouveau roman} le matin , puis ‘Poesie’ avec un pere Franciscain, puis ‘writing fiction’ un atelier d’ecriture plutot sympa. il reste plus que ‘Cinema’ et ca c’est ce soir de 7h a 9h30. Je dis ca s’est bien passe c’etait hier, passque ce matin j’ai pas tout compris. deja j’avais pas prepare et les auters fayots y savaient tout du cours d’avant, et y m’ont tous mis minable au Quizz surprise (eh oui, c d sadiques les profs ici). pi apres le cours s’est sensiblement complique quand on a parle de Taylor, philosophe mondialement connu dans l’Illinois (prononcer ‘ilinoiille’) et des differences subtiles entre ‘secularism’ et ‘secularity’ dans la ‘criticizem’ du ‘romantizem’.
Je sens que je vais passer qq heures sur Wikipedia …et acheter un dico.

fac1 (sinon j’aime bien bosser a la bibliotheque de la Fac…)

Bon je vais vous laisser j’ai une lettre de presentation (en prose) a ecrire au Pere Franciscain, une nouvelle de 15 pages a ecrire pour la fiction et la criticizem’ du ‘romantizem’ a me tartiner.
Demain on va essayer de louer une bagnole avec Claudine et de se balader dans le nord de la peninsule (au dessus de Milwaukee, dans la Pampa.
PS: on a de l’electricity…mais tjs pas de Wifi.

Section vocabulaire:
haogaiiizaryadoin’?
bon moi je leur dit ‘hi’ et j’ai l’air d’un con…

ilekdriseudi seurviss…

Ilekdriseudi seurviss…

apart1(DD est decontenance par la notice IKEA, il a fini de monter le canape…et on ne peut pas l’ouvrir! DD va re demonter ;((

Starting electricity service – EDF (?) en Amérique

  • regle no 1: be American
  • regle no 2 : be American
  • regle no 3 : learn quickly how to live without electricity service

Etant d’un naturel vachement organisé (j’en vois qui ricanent , c’est pas sympa) j’ai anticipé gravement le problème de la fourniture d’électricité et ai commencé à m’en occuper 1 semaine (7 jours!) avant de partir. C’est dommage, ca n’a servi a rien et une semaine apres être parti force est de constater que je ne suis guère plus avancé 🙁
EDF aux US s’appelle COMED. Le 1er réflexe (du gars moderne et connecté) c’est d’aller sur comed.com…c’est une erreur…du moins si on n’est pas Américain: Après qq dizaine de tentatives de remplissage du formulaire en ligne, et malgré un déploiement de ruses, magouilles au clavier et tentatives de falsification variées, il y a toujours un moment ou le formulaire (et oui, il est vivant) va s’apercevoir que vous n’êtes pas Americain. Quand il va vous demander votre code postal aux US, votre no de permis de conduire (de l’Illinois!), votre no de téléphone aux US, ou votre no de sécurité sociale Américaine. Bref après une heure tu laches l’affaire et tu appelles COMED. En fait, tu voulais pas appeler COMED parce que tu te disais qu’avec ton accent américain pourri et leur accent américain pourri aussi , mais pas du tout le même, tu allais galérer au téléphone (c’était pas totalement faux).
Après etre tombé sur différents numéros de téléphones assez éloignés de fournisseurs d’électricité (dont la Boucherie Sanzos) j’ai un gars au bout du fil j’lui explique le topo, et en fait je me retrouve en gros a remplir un formulaire en ligne qui veut absolument que je sois Américain, mais au téléphone. Après une heure de joute verbale et rappels de divers interlocuteurs aux accents improbables, on signe une armistice commune et décident consensuellement de tenter de régler ca aux US, parce que ce sera plus facile. Ca aussi vous vous en doutez c’était une erreur.
D’abord parce que COMED aux US, y zont pas de bureau, ou si y z’en ont t’as pas le droit d’y aller. Et ensuite parce que si tu veux téléphoner a COMED aux US (et plus généralement a n’importe qui aux US, mais ca fera partie d’un autre post)…il faut un téléphone qui marche! Et pour finir parce que si tu vex t’enregistre a COMED…il faut aller chez ‘PL$’.
PL$ ca se trouve (par exemple et pour ce qui nous concerne nous les gars du quartier d’Andersonville, au 7001 Clark street. Ca tombe bien Clark Street c’est la que tu vas au Starbuck faire ton plein de sucre et de gras pour l’année, le matin. Alors tu te dis que tu vas y aller a pied. Et puis quoi?…oui vousle savez déjà…c’est une erreur! tout le monde sait (sauf DD et Clo) qu’aux US tout est pls grand. Apès une heure de marche on s’apercoit qu’on a avancé de 4 numéros dans Clark Street et que le rancard avec l’agence pour les clés c’est dans une heure. On fait signe à un Cab, et enroute pour PL$ (pronounce Piailessse)
PL$, c’est un endroit glauque, ouvert 24/24, rempli de mexicains qui changent des groos sacs de pieces de 1 cent pour avoir des dollars (et ca fait des bruits comme à Las Vegas quand tu ramasses le gros lot au bandit manchot), et plein de Chicas assez hostiles derrière des hygiaphones blindés (« no weapon inside », dit pourtant un petit sticker sur la porte). Après avoir fait la queue derrière toute la misère latino du monde, et qq minutes de palabras, la chica te dit que en fait il faut t’enregister chez COMED d’abord (proposition sympatique au demeurant mais rigoureusement symétrique et contradictoire de la proposition de COMED qui t’as amené ici).
Bon vas y rappelles COMED, rappelles PLS, retournes chez PLS, fais toi donner un ID, rappelles COMED, fais toi donner un autre ID et ca y est! dans 3 jours tu vas avoir l’électricité!
Le 1er jour a l’appart ,super bonne surprise Y A DEJA L’ELECTRICITE !!!!! mais c’est celle du gars d’avant, James, celui que t’as trouvé la lettre de COMED dans ta boite aux lettres, qui dit qu’il leur doit 900$. Du coup, 2eme jour a l’appart, super bonne surprise, ils coupent l’électricité! Bon c’est pas grave parce qu’il y a plus qu’un jour a attendre, sauf que quand tu rappelles COMED (ouais je connais le numéro par coeur et je le tape dans Skype les yeux fermés) ils te disent que comme ca a été coupé ca va prendre 14 jours…
Alors tu vas dans le frigo, et tu jettes le beurre fondu , et les oeufs tiedes que t’avais acheté non sans fierté au petit marché bio de Loyola, et tu retournes ta valise pour retrouver cette putain de lampe electrique Decathlon avec une manivelle en plastique qui va casser dans la soirée, tu sais pas pourquoi, mais t’en es sûr…